Semester of Social Media

“Social Media” is a tricky term to define in that it is better described by examples (see the “getting started” list below).  In “Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media,” Andreas M. Kaplan and Michael Haenlein define it in terms of user-generated content and networking in “Web 2.0″ environments.  Where the web was once static HTML web pages (followed shortly by CSS and such), Social media is dynamic content:  CMSs, blogs, feeds, etc.  Social media is probably how you most often engage with things online now, whether you know it or not.  And “Social Media” is a quickly moving target that might literally mean something different by the end of this term.

The “Semester of Social Media” project has two parts: one where you participate and engage, and the other where you reflect.


First, everyone needs to sign up for a Twitter account (if you aren’t already signed up for this, of course) and link your Twitter account on your blog.  We’ll be using these social media environments for both this assignment and other interactions during the class.  Second, besides these two, you will join and participate in two other social media activities that you currently are not engaged in or not using for purposes related to your blog. See the “getting started” list below, but what this means is that if you already participate/engage in Facebook, you can’t count that as one of your Social Media activities, unless you create a separate facebook account for your blog.

You will participate/engage in each of these activities at least once a week.  The specifics of how you engage/participate in these activities is more or less up to you:  that is, the subject of your social media activities are completely your choice, as long as you do not participate/engage in a way that gets you or me into any trouble.

See the class schedule about this, but you will need to let me know what two other Social Media activities you are going to participate/engage as part of your first progress report.


Reflecting on your Social Media experiences– especially as it relates to our class readings and discussions– is really at the heart of this assignment.  It involves two different writing assignments, both of which will be published on your blog.

First, you will need to post “progress reports” on your blog during the course of the semester (see the schedule for the due dates on these). The progress reports will be fairly short– around 500-750 words– and as much as anything else will tell your audience– both your classmates and your instructor– what you’ve been up to as the “semester of Social Media” progresses.

Second, you will write a concluding “reflective essay” that will be due near the end of the semester. This essay will be longer (1000-1250 words) and more “formal” in that I would like you to use this essay as an opportunity to make some sort of point or final observation about Social Media based on your engagement with it, our class readings, and our discussion.

Getting Started Examples:

Here are some examples to get started with social media, but I want to emphasize that there are certainly more than these here; you might, for example, see something more interesting on this wikipedia entry or some place else I don’t include here, or you might have a different example of Social Media in mind.  When in doubt, just ask and we’ll work it out.

Oh, and if your reaction to any of the items on this list is “what’s that?” do a Google search and you’ll find out.

In no particular order (other than perhaps obviousness):

  • Facebook, or related sites like LinkedIn, MySpace, Orkut, and the newest big service to make waves, Google+
  • Twitter, and similar “microblogging” platforms like Plurk
  • Location-based networking, such as Foursquare
  • Wikis, which obviously includes wikipedia, but it might also include a wiki on a topic especially interesting to you– for example, Wookieepedia, the Star Wars wiki, and lots of other special interest wikis via sites like Wikia or Wetpaint
  • Social bookmarking via sites like Delicious, Diigo, CiteULike, or Digg
  • Photo and art sharing sites like Flickr or Picasa
  • Video sharing through sites like YouTube or Vimeo
  • Review sites like epinions, Yelp,
  • Misc things like Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat
  • Special interest/hobby sites like Ravelry (knitting and other fiber arts), Goodreads or LibraryThing (books), Boardgamegeek (board games)

And again, this is just a beginning.  If there’s a social media out there that you want to focus on that I haven’t included here, let me know.

Progress Report #1, due Mon 10/13

By now you should have chosen 2 social media sites for your semester of social media. Try to choose sites that are relevant to the topic and readers of your blog for further social networking. Also, link your twitter page to your blog using the widget. Tweet at least once to the hashtag #bellwoarwam. Tweet something relevant to your blog or writing across media in general.

Write 500-750 words. Tell your audience, your classmates and your instructor, what you’ve been up to so far for the semester of social media. What two social media sites have you chosen? Why did you choose those sites? What engagement have you had on each over the past week? What did you tweet to #bellwoarwam? Post progress report #1 to your Semester of Social Media progress page.

Progress Report #2, due Mon 11/17

It has now been a month since progress report #1, and you’ve had the opportunity to engage at least once a week on your blog, twitter, and your 2 chosen social media sites. In this progress report, update the class on these engagements. What have you done on your social media sites so far? Have you used the sites in the ways you expected? What have you learned about social media or anything else through your use? Write 500-700 words and post them to your semester of social media project page.


One thought on “Semester of Social Media

  1. Pingback: Image Assignment Presentations Part 1 | Writing Across Media at Juniata Fall 2014

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